Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 12-28-2015, 10:59 AM   #1
Rivet Master
 
Keyair's Avatar

 
1984 34.5' Airstream 345
Foothill Ranch , California
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 3,941
Images: 1
Classic Motorhome cold weather Mods?

With the recent wonderful pictures of Members camping out in colder weathers, it seems that our Classics are not well suited for that.

Here would be a good place to discuss mods, and thoughts on the matter.
There is a great thread up in the Trailer forums where they discuss cold weather mods, but it would be good to have our own, whilst learning from them.

With the construction we have, the wall, and roof insulation is poor as built. Floors are just aluminum sheet with Ply/OSB. Grey and black tanks are exposed and uninsulated.
At least most of the plumbing/potable water supply is above the floor!

While I was under my MH last few weeks, it seems that adding Polystyrene sheets between the welded subfloor would be simple, light, cost effective. Maybe adding a layer of Reflectix over that?

Grey and Black tanks would benefit from insulation, and the addition of tank heaters?

For those of us undergoing a restoration, it makes sense to incorporate mods/insulation as we go!

Thoughts, and ideas?
__________________

__________________
Keyair is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2015, 12:46 PM   #2
Rivet Master
 
bkahler's Avatar

 
1974 20' Argosy 20
Richmond , Kentucky
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,367
Just buy an Argosy, our floors are already insulated
__________________

__________________
Air forums # 1674
1974 20' Argosy Motor Home
1974 31' Excella trailer (parting out, as of 4/1/2015 I have wheels, brake drums, windows & holding tanks left to sell)
bkahler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2015, 02:05 PM   #3
Dazed and Confused
 
Isuzusweet's Avatar
 
Currently Looking...
1983 31' Airstream310
Hillsburgh , Ontario
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,432
I too have been curious watching the more intrepid of us taking their coaches to the cold white stuff and thinking they're completely bonkers. IMHO I would rent a hotel/motel long before using the Airstream in these extremes, but if you're going to do it, here's my list.

The first mod I would do would be to choose my tires very carefully, as my highway ribbed tires would be suicidal on anything resembling ice. I maybe wrong but I don't think you can use chains on our rigs due to clearance issues on the dually's.
Replacing the plumbing with Pex A would be my next have to mod.
Gas line antifreeze, which is standard kit up here, but not in California if heading to the Sierra's.
Buying a couple of Platinum Cats which could be left on for hours and not give you carbon monoxide poisoning, plus a couple of low amp fans to move air over the hot surfaces that the heaters are directed at. The Cats use very little electricity and propane.
Tank warmers, but these couldn't be used boon docking I don't think for any great length of time, unless the generator is running.

IMHO, our rigs are just not designed for use under 10C or 50F, especially my diesel, as 15W-40 oil takes on a tar like consistency and the diesel would never warm up unless you blocked off the front end. I would have to make sure my glow plugs and glow plug circuit worked properly to even have a prayer of starting the beast below 0C/32F.

These rigs are getting very old and their systems may not be able to take the strain of extreme cold or heat and there are just too many things to go wrong that could end up being life threatening, from an accident on slippery surfaces with basic seat belts and no air bags; to the heat packing up from running out of propane or burnt fuses from over use, to a broken or unstartable generator with broken plumbing a result.

IMHO, not worth it.

Cheers
Tony
__________________
Per Mare, Per Terram and may all your campaigns be successful.

Its a recession when your neighbor loses his job; its a depression when you lose your own. "Harry S Truman"
Isuzusweet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2015, 04:26 PM   #4
Rivet Master
 
Keyair's Avatar

 
1984 34.5' Airstream 345
Foothill Ranch , California
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 3,941
Images: 1
I hear you and agree with many of your points.
Having read the Trailer forums on the subject, it is a stretch to use them in lower temps.

What I am proposing is just some upgrades, and colder weather preparedness, that could help in a trip to higher elevations.
In my own experience, even an April trip over the Continental Divide, in NM, it suddenly turned cold, and we had to disconnect the water hose as it was already freezing. I know that furnace vent that blows onto the bathroom floor was VERY welcome!

I am replacing all my grey piping with Pex, and wondered if it was worth adding insulation while I was doing the work... seemed wise, and anyway, adding insulation to the hot water pipes will save hot water I think. Also, I have already added a layer of polystyrene under the freshwater tank. and planned to add a flap to the rear furnace vent that will discharge a little warm air under the bed where it, and the water pump lives.

On the furnaces, I have replaced the original thermostats with digital units, which are more reliable and easier to set.
__________________
Keyair is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2015, 09:06 PM   #5
Rivet Master
 
1982 28' Airstream 280
Redwood City , California
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,735
As most may know, the "home" for my MH is up in the Redding CA area. I use the MH up there often in the winter months. I would say our temperatures in the winter can get down into the 20's F. Sometimes we have snow. It was about three years ago that there was any amount of snow at all. It lasts about a week or so. But with the temps down in the 20's, the biggest problem is freezing pipes and sink fixtures.

Over the winter there can multiple times that we will encounter deep freezes. Every spring we have many owners that are repairing pipes, etc. because they did not believe that the pipes can freeze. At the end of last winter, many folks thought the cold weather was over and had used their RV's. A local mobile RV repair man made a fortune!

At the first sign of winter...no longer 110 degree days...LOL...I "winterize" the MH. Winterizing for me means disconnecting water and sewer and electric and putting all hoses and cables in the MH storage compartments. I open the hot and cold water drain valves which are a pain to get to in the rear bath closet. I also open the drain valve to the fresh water tank. I open the pressure release valve on the water heater and I drain the water heater. I drain the black and gray tanks as always when I leave the MH.

The only other thing I do is to pour some anti-freeze down the kitchen and bath sinks and the shower pan. I don't worry about the black and gray tanks and I've never had any issue with them.

When I use the MH up there in the winter, I just hook all back up and close all the values and use the MH as usual. If I know we will be below freezing for more than an hour at night, I will disconnect the water hose, drain it and put it away. I put a peace of insulation over the water inlet on the MH and our maintenance staff always covers the water spigot with insulation.

I have had my water hose/inlet freeze over night when I forget to take it in, but I just have to wait for it to thaw out hopefully by noon. I rarely remember the filter at the water pump and if I remember correctly it cracked one time.

More to come...
__________________
http://projectupdraft.com/airstream

"We are free to go where we wish and to be what we are"
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagall
dadstoy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2015, 09:14 PM   #6
Rivet Master
 
1982 28' Airstream 280
Redwood City , California
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,735
I've posted some of these pics before but what the heck!

I just got a message from another ranch owner that said there is snow on my MH. I'm heading up there this weekend to brave the cold and snow, it is time to move the MH to another space for another 90 days!
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	DSC_0017.JPG-(11).jpg
Views:	69
Size:	333.0 KB
ID:	254744   Click image for larger version

Name:	DSC_0025.jpg
Views:	72
Size:	385.8 KB
ID:	254745  

Click image for larger version

Name:	DSC_0001.JPG (12).jpg
Views:	71
Size:	407.2 KB
ID:	254746   Click image for larger version

Name:	DSC_0001.JPG (13).jpg
Views:	68
Size:	226.7 KB
ID:	254747  

Click image for larger version

Name:	DSC_0043.JPG (6).jpg
Views:	68
Size:	366.5 KB
ID:	254748   Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_7549.jpg
Views:	67
Size:	369.1 KB
ID:	254749  

Click image for larger version

Name:	DSC_0004.JPG (12).jpg
Views:	69
Size:	204.0 KB
ID:	254750   Click image for larger version

Name:	DSC_0012.JPG (9).jpg
Views:	73
Size:	288.1 KB
ID:	254751  

__________________
http://projectupdraft.com/airstream

"We are free to go where we wish and to be what we are"
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagall
dadstoy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2015, 10:42 PM   #7
Rivet Master
 
Keyair's Avatar

 
1984 34.5' Airstream 345
Foothill Ranch , California
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 3,941
Images: 1
Great Input Dean!
Lovely pics too!
__________________
Keyair is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2015, 11:00 PM   #8
Rivet Master
 
1982 28' Airstream 280
Redwood City , California
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,735
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keyair View Post
Great Input Dean!

Lovely pics too!

Thank you Steve!
__________________
http://projectupdraft.com/airstream

"We are free to go where we wish and to be what we are"
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagall
dadstoy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2015, 12:09 AM   #9
Rivet Master
 
1982 28' Airstream 280
Redwood City , California
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,735
The Airstream MH definitely was not built to be used in extreme cold weather. The walls are cold. Cold air blasts in around the door and at every window. New window gaskets would help I believe...something that has been on my to do list for years.

In the winter as I do in the hot summers is to cover all windows with the reflexit (spelling?) insulation and close any and all drapes and blinds. Carpeting really helps with the cold floors.

The furnace thermostat was on the bulkhead in the bedroom area. This didn't work well. With the furnace under the galley sink and straight runs to the salon, the air flow to the salon is very high. The airflow to the bedroom and bathroom is very low but does work. The result with the thermostat in the bedroom is that the salon would get way too hot. I moved the thermostat to the wall next to the door in the salon. Not the best but it was the only wall available. When the furnace first comes on when it is cold, it will cycle more then it should until the temp sort of equalizes through out the MH. Then all is good. When I go to bed, I turn the registers in the salon off a bit to force more air to the bedroom and bathroom.

I also use a couple of electric heaters to help supplement the furnace and we do not pay extra for electricity...democratic socialism at its best right! So no issue using electric heaters! One of my electric heater took a crap and I stated using my Mr. Heater. We use the Mr Heater when we go to Yosemite in the winter. It will heat up the MH very quickly. It worked well this last Oct in Yosemite. A year ago when we were in Yosemite, the new furnace crapped out...fan would not run. I've learned to hit the front of the furnace with my hand to make the fan run...made in China! Anyway, the furnace stopped working on the last night. We had the Mr. Heater going but it quit on us too. First I thought the portable propane can tank ran out. We froze that last night. Bottom line is that the Mr. Heater will shut off automatically if there is not enough oxygen. With all the campfires in the valley in the winter, there is too much co2 in the air and not enough oxygen for it to run safety! LOL

If you can cover the wall(s) next to the bed that will help as well. The worst thing is to roll over and touch a very cold wall. Moisture is another issue in the winter. I open the roof vent(s) once in a while especially while cooking to help eliminate the moisture.

I also keep my Yamaha 2000 generator handy and ready to go. The Onan GenSet works but uses too much fuel and is too smokey for extended use. I've been at at ranch in the winter when the power has gone out for days. This usually happens with a large snow storm up the mountain. It's great to just be able to plug in the portable generator to power everything including the electric heaters! I always keep fuel n the portable generator and I add Sta-Bill to the gas.

I was told this evening that there is snow on my MH right now...snowed yesterday. I'm heading up to the ranch this weekend. I really hope my carpet is dry!!!
__________________
http://projectupdraft.com/airstream

"We are free to go where we wish and to be what we are"
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagall
dadstoy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2015, 08:34 AM   #10
3 Rivet Member
 
gaiaenviro's Avatar
 
1987 32.5' Airstream 325
dripping springs , Texas
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 164
The big heat loss locations I've noticed are wherever there are skin penetrations. I didn't think about these til this week, but a big one might be the roof units. Mine are heat pumps, but basically ineffective in sub freezing temps, so thinking a piece of insulation in each might help a lot with heat loss. The rear corner with the electrical/water connections is another big one. Under the couch where the access hole from outside is. Wheelwells. The aforementioned are all locations where we've noticed ice even though we're using heaters. The entire floor could benefit from insulation underneath. A new one is the AC coil in front of the passengers seat, just a constant draft there....I plan to attack all of these locations when I return and have a nice workspace. I'll post the mods I utilize....


-Bill
Sent from my iPhone using Airstream Forums
__________________
gaiaenviro is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2015, 09:07 AM   #11
Rivet Master
 
bkahler's Avatar

 
1974 20' Argosy 20
Richmond , Kentucky
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,367
What I'm going to add here doesn't necessarily apply to cold weather camping in an Airstream motorhome so you can skip this post or read on if you want

For 2-1/2 years straight I lived in two different motorhomes in Central Arkansas before finally purchasing a house. The winters in Arkansas were nothing like where I grew up in eastern Nebraska but they were still cold!

The typical day time temps in late November through February were typically in the high 30s and maybe low 40s and night time temps would frequently be in the 20s and sometimes down in the teens. There would typically be a week or two straight where the temps were below freezing day and night with some light snow mixed in. The coldest months were usually December and January where the highs might just be in the 30s.

The first year I lived in a little 1976 20' Coachmen class C motorhome. The Coachmen was basically the same inside as my Argosy, cozy. I had the propane furnace and a small portable electric heater available for use. For the most part I used the portable electric heater which was one of those ceramic 1500 watt units that sat on a steel cookie pan on the floor. I chose to use electric heat when possible because the electric bill was part of the fixed monthly payment for the parking spot! I left the fresh water and sewer hoses connected all the time but the black and gray water tank valves were left closed. There was nowhere close by to fill the propane tank which was another factor in my choice for heat.

In the little Coachmen the 1500 watt heater typically kept it comfortable inside day and night until the temperature would get below freezing at which point I would use the propane furnace as needed to stay warm.

The fresh water spigot was really close to the coach so I just kept the hose covered (can't remember what with) and almost never had issues with it freezing. I think during the coldest periods I let a faucet drip at which point I would open the gray water drain valve so the tank wouldn't fill up.

About 10 months later I ended up buying a 27' Winnebago motorhome and started living it in. I used the same small electric heater which gave great results. I kept the same arrangements with the fresh water and sewer hoses. The larger Winnebago did require a little more use of the propane furnace but it also had a much larger propane tank so I could pretty much go all winter without needing to refill the tank.

While I was away at work or gone on weekends I would leave the electric heater sitting on the cookie pan set on low. I just wanted to keep it above freezing. It didn't take long at all for the coach to warm up inside once I turned the heater/furnace up.

I did nothing to try and enclose the sides of the coaches and I never had issues with pipes freezing even when the temps were in the teens or 20s. During the coldest periods and whenever I was gone I would open cabinet doors so the heat could circulate into those spaces.

In general I would say cold weather camping is very doable, you just have to prepare for it accordingly.

Brad
__________________
Air forums # 1674
1974 20' Argosy Motor Home
1974 31' Excella trailer (parting out, as of 4/1/2015 I have wheels, brake drums, windows & holding tanks left to sell)
bkahler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2015, 02:05 PM   #12
demijac
 
2014 27' FB Classic
Livingston , Texas
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 105
Send a message via Skype™ to demijac
It's Easier Than We Thought

We are full-timers and look forward to doing some cold weather camping each year. Agree that Airstreams as manufactured are not designed for cold winter camping and that there are lots of mods one can make to provide better insulation/cold weather protection for an Airstream and its component parts. However, for us, not so sure we want to make the investment and carry around extra stuff to help with winter camping.

Assuming you have shore power, here are some quick and dirty tips that have worked well for us down to single digit temperatures and allow us to effectively deal with many different cold weather situations.

1) 1500 watt ceramic heater that we run at 1200 watt setting - $50
2) heated mattress pad - $45
3) at night, set thermostat to 35 degrees for propane furnace - $cost of
propane usage
4) bring water hoses and water filter inside at night - $0
5) wear winter clothing inside - $0
6) top off the water tank when temperature gets back above freezing - $0

During the day, we rely on the ceramic heater and run it all day long so we don't have to use propane - this strategy works especially well at camp grounds where you are not charged for electricity usage. If necessary, we wear layered winter clothing while inside the trailer and supplement with throw blankets as needed. Water supply is generally not an issue unless temperatures have been down in the teens for two or three days in a row, pipes are frozen and our water tank gets depleted. On warmer days, we make it a point to top off the water tank to make sure we are prepared for multiple days below freezing.

The lowest temperatures typically occur at night. Before we go to bed, we always fill the coffee maker and a large pan with water just in case we have water supply issues in the morning. We also bring our water hoses and filter inside at night if temperatures are forecast to be in the twenties or below.
In an effort to prevent our tanks and pipes from freezing, we set the propane thermostat so that the furnace will kick in if the inside trailer temperature drops below 35 degrees. We also run the ceramic heater on the really cold nights. Even though we let the inside temperature go way down at night, we sleep very comfortably with just a down comforter and a heated mattress pad - the best $45 we've ever spent.

In the morning when we get up, we run the propane furnace for about thirty minutes and raise the temperature gradually to about 50 degrees to avoid condensation inside. When the outdoor temperature gest back to 30 degrees, we re-attach our water hose, top of our water tank if needed, and we're back to the cold weather daytime routine described above.

If we decide to do more, our next two investments will be inexpensive insulation tubing for the water hose and placing a light bulb under the trailer at night to keep our water attachment and pipes just warm enough not to freeze. We've met campers who swear by this method but have never tried it ourselves.

With regard to driving in icy and snowy conditions, we've made a decision to just not do it. If we get trapped by bad weather, our plan is to just hunker down (boon-docking or RV park) and wait it out. Just make sure you are always prepared to hunker down on short notice by having plenty of propane and water in your tanks.

And one final thing, dealing with the cold weather can be a bit of a test but also, it makes for a little more adventure and campfire stories which get better over time.
__________________
demijac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2015, 02:14 PM   #13
Rivet Master
 
Hittenstiehl's Avatar

 
1965 24' Tradewind
1962 28' Ambassador
1961 19' Globetrotter
Mesa , Arizona
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 3,044
Images: 9
Demijac, some very good ideas here.
__________________

Hittenstiehl
Hittenstiehl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2015, 02:16 PM   #14
Rivet Master
 
kdickinson's Avatar
 
1969 23' Safari
Palmer Lake , Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 524
I agree with Bkahler, it is very doable. The automotive part of a motorhome is designed by default to work in all weather by the auto manufacturer. We camped in our trailer (Airstream) and in a Coachmen motor home all over the state of New Mexico including boon docking at Taos Ski Resort parking lot (back in the 70's - Ernie Blake let us plug in to electric - probably not that way anymore). We made sure we had plenty of LP on board and with electric we were doing great with the furnace running through the night. We just had to use the porta potties in the parking lot and we filled up a water jug each day for cooking and drinking. That means no concern about water system nor black tank freezing. They had showers in the locker rooms as I recall but then again we may have lived without for a few days of world class skiing! Just last year we were in Pasadena for the Rose Parade rally and made it through a few nights going and coming across Arizona with temps in single digits and did fine. Key is to be sure not to let the inside water supply system freeze at any cost and remember that, in the case of a trailer, the outside temp will be the inside temp of the trailer during towing.
__________________

__________________
kdickinson is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
RVing in Cold Weather harryp Winter Living 30 04-06-2007 12:14 PM
Cold Weather Airstreaming gryphon Winter Living 38 04-16-2006 08:16 AM
LCD and Cold weather? balrgn Audio, Video & TV 4 12-18-2004 07:21 AM
Cold Weather Camping Bill & Barbara 2002 Safari 9 08-26-2003 11:29 PM
cold weather how do air streams do? overlander Our Community 2 10-02-2002 06:10 AM


Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:34 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.